For keeping your settings when reinstalling, you can use a program such as MyBackup Root or Titanium Backup. They work well as long as you don't restore contacts and calendars, which google services handle, as these conflict.
It should also be noted that Cyanogenmod 9 can be updated without wiping the device, which is especially handy for nightlies. If you really are adventurous, you shouldn't be afraid of the nightlies, as the actual android code is stable and only 'complete' features are included, for testing. Cyanogenmod 9 development is also going more slowly then in the past, as they want a more stable platform.