I've been living below my income for a while now, and built up an emergency fund of 12 months comfortable expenses/18 months bare-bones expenses. Currently it's sitting in a savings account earning a fraction of a percent interest, but I'd like to get it doing a little more work for me without exposing it to more risk. (This is separate from my retirement account, I have that in a mix of index funds, but I don't want to put my emergency fund in stocks for the obvious reasons.)
I'm looking at doing either a CD ladder (about 3.2% interest on 5-year CDs, but I'd start with a lower rate on the shorter CDs) or a ladder-type thing with I Bonds (apparently over 9% interest right now but who knows how they'll change). Downside of a CD ladder seems to be the lower interest rate and it would take a lot more work to set up, downside of an I Bond ladder seems to be that you literally can't get the money for 12 months, so I'd have to keep 6 months of expenses outside it until the first bonds were a year old.
Am I missing a catch somewhere? How long does it actually take to get your money back out of I Bonds if you need it (after the 1 year deadline)? Is a bond ladder actually a better idea?