Heh, "cheap and good" is a bit of an oxymoron with lasers. If you want a "good" laser, you're going to have to shell out some cash. However, there are some decent lasers you could complete for around $20, assuming you have a few parts on hand.
Considering that you have never soldered before, I would highly recommend getting some practice before you even attempt to build a laser. Search the forums/google for "how to solder" and you will find plenty of information to guide you.
Why dont you go ahead and post your question(s) to the "Red Lasers" section. I can probably answer your questions, but creating a new thread will allow other members to contribute their insights and opinions. Not only that, but other people in the future can also reference your thread and benefit from the information.