Madison, Wis. — If it's true that love lasts only as long as the money does, then pity the poor giver in ''The Twelve Days of Christmas.'' Everybody's Money, the quarterly consumer magazine for credit union members, published by the Credit Union National Association, has figured that the gifts listed in the popular Christmas song would set you back $44,848.40 this year.
Here's the itemized bill:
* One pear tree - $14.
* One partridge - $15.
* Two turtle doves - $10.
* Three French hens - $36.
* Four calling birds - $140.
* Five gold rings (14 carat) - $1,000.
* Six geese (a-laying) - $60.
* Seven swans (a-swimming) - $1,260.
* Eight maids a-milking - At the farm wage rate of $3.38 per hour, eight milkmaids working an eight-hour day would cost $216.32.
* Nine ladies dancing - A moderately priced dance company composed of nine women will perform for $6,000.
* Ten lords leaping - These are in very short supply. However, you could send 10 young men or women named Lord to gymnastics school for 16 weeks for $1,260.
* Eleven pipers - At the musicians' union rate of $11 per hour, plus 20 percent for the leader, 11 pipers would cost $145.20 per hour.
* Twelve drummers - Paid at the same rate as the pipers, $158.40.
The total of the individual gifts would be $10,314.92, exclusive of travel, tax or tips.
But one of everything is not enough, of course. You would have to give not one partridge in a pear tree, but 12; not one pair of turtle doves, but 11, and so on to conform to the song.
Altogether, then, you would have to spend $44,848.40 this year to duplicate the gifts named in the song.
Everybody's Money did a similar price check back in 1968. The cost then was only $15,000.