Most people — 61 percent according to a poll by TD Ameritrade — intend to save or invest their tax refund. But a few extra hundreds or thousands of dollars in-hand can make refund recipients feel like they’re allowed to splurge a bit.

“You also find significant spending among households who say they’re saving [their tax refund],” said Jonathan Parker, a finance professor at MIT, in an interview with CNBC. Research shows that seeing extra funds in a bank account “actually caused spending even though you think you saved it.” [read more]