Women face unique circumstances when it comes to financial planning, one being the fact that they have longer life expectancies than men. That means more years in retirement and a greater chance of caretaking for loved ones such as spouses and parents.

Here are three important questions every woman must ask herself when planning for her financial future.

1. How long will your retirement last?
The longer you live, the longer your retirement savings will need to last. So when you think about retirement needs as a woman, it's important to make sure your estimates account for a long life (today's 65-year-old woman can expect to live, on average, until age 86). Start by looking at your current spending. This can help you develop a realistic estimate of your expected spending in retirement. Then review your potential sources of income. Any expenses not covered by outside sources, such as Social Security or a pension, must come from your personal savings and investments.

2. How much do you expect to receive from Social Security?
Social Security benefits are based on how long you have worked, how much you earned, and when you start taking benefits. Women typically spend fewer years in the workforce than their male counterparts, often because they have taken time for parenting or caregiving responsibilities. As a result, their benefits may be lower. And the age at which you start taking benefits can have a significant impact on your long-term retirement income. For example, a $1,000 monthly benefit started at age 66 is reduced to $750 if taken instead at age 62. On the other hand, delaying Social Security benefits until age 70 would result in a $1,320 monthly benefit. 

3. How will you address health care expenses?
Women generally have significantly higher health expenses over their lifetimes than men, in part because they live longer. That fact alone makes this a critically important question. And outliving a spouse may mean you'll need to pay for outside caregiving help. Because health care expenses can dramatically affect your quality of life in retirement, it's important to plan for them.

Foolish takeaway
These are merely three questions that demonstrate how women's strategies for retirement may differ from men's. Whether retirement is decades away or right around the corner, now is a good time to review your unique financial-planning needs as a woman.

How to get even more income during your retirement
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Follow Nicole Seghetti on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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