10. Invite them over for ramen.
Maybe you can't afford to help them out financially, but you could afford to cook a meal for them. It's cheaper to cook for two people, anyway. Plus, now you have a special occasion, and you have an excuse to splurge on an egg to go in that ramen!
9. Think about the worst case scenario.
If you don't loan your friend money, it's awkward for a week or two. If you do loan your friend money, it's awkward until that loan is paid back. As them if they really want that hanging over your relationship indefinitely.
8. Find a better way to support them.
We've talked before about how to avoid supporting multi-level marketing schemes, but if your friend has come to just straight-up asking you for cash, maybe it's time to buy some Jamberry, or whatever MLM they're embroiled in. If they're not part of one, see if they have an Etsy shop you can support. Come to think of it, that's a much better idea. Commission artwork or something from them.
7. Blast topically-appropriate rap music at them.
There's no shortage of hip-hop about coming up from nothing, suddenly having money, and having to deal with hangers-on asking for cash. This is an especially common theme in Dirty South rap. Try Wiz Khalifa, T.I., or Childish Gambino. Crank it way up. They'll get the point.
6. Ask them to sign something.
Draw up the most terrifying, legally-binding-looking document you can and ask them to sign it. If they were never planning on paying you back, they'll back out here - that'll take care of 90% of requests. If by some incredible chance they're actually willing to sign off on it, then maybe it's worth thinking about lending that money, after all.
5. Explain why you're broke, too.
Your friend has opened up their financial life to you. Respond in kind. Tell them that you're trying to pay back your student loans in an economy that's basically been kneecapped and is lying on the floor bleeding. Chances are, they'll understand.
4. Offer non-monetary support.
Maybe your friend needs a place to stay. Maybe you can help them out with business advice, or hook them up with a job interview, or give them a place to do their laundry. Whatever you have to offer to help them out of their situation, offer it. Get creative. You'll be doing more good than a loan would, anyway.
3. Come up with a payback plan so convoluted they give up.
This is also a really good chance to educate yourself on financials. Learn what APR is, and the difference between compound and simple interest. Throw some negative amortization in there. Start really innocently, "Well, I've been burned before, so here are some simple rules..." and then lay out a payment plan so complex that your friend will need to become a CPA just to learn what borrowing $20 from you entails. Try to put their TV in escrow. They'll give up.
2. Find other ways to ease the financial burden.
Maybe your friend could hold a garage sale, and you can help them put it together. Maybe you and your friend need to band together to deliver street justice to the pusher that killed your brother and is leaning on your friend to pay back his gambling debts. Or maybe the two of you can just go to thrift stores together and find things to flip on eBay.
1. Change your name and flee the country.
They can't borrow money if they can't find you. The one drawback is that a plane ticket to Europe probably costs more than whatever they were going to borrow from you.