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As I read the information that the Treasury Department gives about savings bonds (it's www.ustreas.gov, and go to their Frequently Asked Questions area), to get money from a savings bond you must redeem it. And generally, the interest rate you get from a savings bond is significantly less if you redeem it early than if it is held to maturity. I have not bought a U.S. savings bond, so I don't know the current details.

If you are looking for super safe investments, you may want to go with Treasury bills or notes. These are free from state taxes and are now available in denominations of $1000 (used to be $10,000). Rates on Treasuries vary with the term but are in the neighborhood of 5% now. For comparison, my broker's fully taxable money market account is currently paying about 4.8%.

But, you may wish to think about being a bit more adventurous. I suggest you look around the Fool's site. It's free, there are lots of good ideas (and given that much of the content on the boards comes from people like me with absolutely no affiliation with the Fool), and lots of bad ones too. You should come away with a notion of your comfort level.
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