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It pays to get married - even if your sweetie doesn't know it.

You say you've plied your honey with flowers, chocolates and engagement rings? You've pleaded, cajoled and begged, and you still can't schedule a walk down the aisle?Well, if love isn't enough to over-come fear of the "M-word," try the pocketbook approach.

The Meyers Report has uncovered some astounding financial facts that may change your marital status - for good or better. Basically, the cost of living is cheaper for married folk!

After we tell you why, it may be a good idea to drop a copy of this article next to your reason-for-being's phone bill or check book.

While the idea of marriage certainly has taken some hard knocks in recent times, the institution is far from extinction. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 2.4 million people were married last year, while only 1.15 million were divorced.

- Tax Time. Since this is the time of year when a person's fancy turns to thoughts of both love and the IRS, let's talk taxes. Married people get quite a few breaks.

When computing your taxes on the table found in your 1040, the "married-filing jointly" column is the best status for paying low taxes. For example, if your family income is $38,000, under "married-filing jointly," you would pay only $6,780 in taxes, as opposed to $8,327 as a single person.

Also, as a married couple, you are allowed two personal tax exemptions of $1,950 each for both your spouse and yourself. The single person only qualifies for a single exemption - naturally.

- Insurance. Another place where married people get a bargain is on auto insurance. Under the "class" category, in which insurance companies rate applicants by age, sex, and marital status, married people can save as much as 20-30 percent on their auto insurance. Statistics show married people to be better drivers than single people.

- One plus one is more than two. The largest and most obvious financial advantage to being married is that two incomes are higher than one. Labor Department wage statistics show the average two-income household earns $780 per week, or $39,000 a year. Single wage earners do not fare so well. Single women earn an average weekly income of $257, or $12,850 a year; single men make $362 a week, or $18,100 a year.

Marriage also gives people the extra incentive to earn more. The combined income of two single people is more than $8,000 less than married couples.

The two-income family is a growing phenomenon, as more women bring home their share of the bacon. In 1972, the gender distribution in the workplace was 61 percent male and 39 percent female. By the year 2000, however, working gender distribution is expected to be 53 percent male and 47 percent female.

The Labor Department reports the number of married couples in which both the husband and wife are employed rose by 600,000 over the past year, to a new total of 25.4 million. One-half of all married couples are two-income families. Among married couples with children, the proportion in which both parents were employed was 60 percent.

- Material wealth. Most newlyweds find that the addition of a second income enables them to make purchases or investments not available to them before. Marrieds are able to buy major appliances, new cars, vacations, and especially first homes - things single people often can't achieve.

- Health and happiness. Statistics show marrieds live longer than singles, so marriage could be the best investment you ever made. The National Health Survey also has found married people report fewer sick days, and are more likely to assess their health as good.

Once your beloved views the above reasons, we bet you'll be knee deep in Minute Rice. Hey, no need to thank us - just a newspaper clipping of your wedding announcement will suffice.

In the February 14th spirit of love and romance, we know there's ultimately only one reason to tie the knot with someone. But isn't it nice to know financial perks come along with the nuptial package? Happy Valentine's Day!

Reader questions will be answered and may appear in this column, when mailed to Gary S. Meyers at 20 West Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60610.