EATING YOUR CAKE Stock investors leery of market volatility who still want to play might consider market-indexed CDs. Crown Bank of Orlando, Fla., and New South Federal Savings of Birmingham, Ala., offer FDIC-insured CDs tied to the NASDAQ 100 or the S&P 500. Based on the past two decades, both would have done worse than the market but better than non-indexed CDs.
E-TAIL INVESTING Right when economists are sounding alarms against running up holiday consumer debt, one firm is tempting shoppers by offering a rebate that lets them save while they spend. Stockback.com sells a Merrill Lynch-managed mutual fund that allows merchants to provide Stockback owners with rebates that are funneled into their individual fund accounts. The minimum investment is $10, and there are no transaction costs to customers. But that's not carte blanche to click up all the PlayStation 2 games your kids' hearts desire. The typical $100 spent would siphon less than $5 back into the fund.
E-TAIL SAVING The Web offers a host of chances to save on shopping this season, with a few caveats. First is the growing crop of sites, including amazing-bargains.com and one called flamingoworld.com that steer you to promotions and bargains. But beware the many strings attached. A second group, including Overstock.com and SmartBargains.com liquidates failed e-tailers' inventory. But note: as with all liquidators, this is merchandise other vendors couldn't push.
--By Mike Eskenazi